Publishing Date: September 2011
Genre: young adult, paranormal, gothic
The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him–the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
Louisiana teen Rory Deveaux transfers to England to attend Wexford, an East London boarding school. On the day of her arrival, a murder occurs — one that mimics the exact same murder as Jack the Ripper’s in 1888. Students and society are entranced more than horrified, following the murders and recounting the history like a historical documentary or TV reality show. But when Rory realizes she can see the murderer and no one else can, her peaceful existence at school ends. This modern Ripper has his sights set on her and her alone.
A thrilling and entertaining read, especially for an American reader who has traveled to England and went on a Jack the Ripper tour that took you to the exact locations of the murders. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Rory adapting to life in England — noticing the way the English say “thing” (fink) and “perfect” (pahhh-fect); constantly being corrected for defining England, Great Britain, and United Kingdom; interpreting how English boys flirt versus American boys. Reading this was partly nostalgic.
The characters, even the ghosts, were remarkably relatable and realistic. Jazza was my favorite. If I were a character in this book, I would be Jazza to a T: her love for books (especially Austen), her steadfast determination to do good and think positively of others even when angered, her desire to do well in classes and stay out of trouble. Jerome is an enthusiastic journalist-to-be, constantly keeping tabs on the latest reports for the Ripper case. Boo, Callum, and Stephen were fascinating to read, their backgrounds and past lifestyles shining through their every action and phrase before it was explained to Rory. I especially enjoyed the way Johnson wrote the various ghosts, too — Jo in the 1940s garb and language, Alistair and his love for literature and the Smiths, the man in the tunnel lost and confused, even the Ripper and his mad obsession.
To see ghosts, one has to experience near-death. Once one sees ghosts, a whole new heirarchy must be explored. Some ghosts are misty and can hardly speak. Some have full ghostly bodies, but repeat the same words or phrases over and over. Others can hold conversations and pass through solid structures, while others look and act mistakenly like humans because they can move solid objects and interact with the environment. This is what sets the ball rolling for the new Ripper: no one can see him, but he can handle a knife.
Thrilling, chilling, and humorous all at once, Johnson’s first book in her paranormal trilogy is worth every second of reading!